Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Feminism
Our Monday Gender Issue:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian writer, former MacArthur genius, National Book Critics Circle Award winner, author of the book, Half of a Yellow Sun on which a new movie is based, and the person who has given so many of us so many wonderful hours of reading, most recently with Americanah, did a TED talk.
In “We Should All Be Feminists,” she says…
- A thousand years ago, “the physically stronger person was more likely to lead. And men in general are physically stronger…But today we live in a vastly different world. The person more likely to lead is not the physically stronger person, it is the more creative person, the more intelligent person, the more innovative person, and there are no hormones for those attributes…”
- “…that word ‘feminist’ is so heavy with baggage, negative baggage.”
- “We need to eliminate the weight of gender expectations.”
- When a man says, “I did it for peace in my marriage,” he usually is referring to what he should not be doing like going to a club every night. Women, by contrast, give up a job and a dream to preserve the “peace in their marriage.”
- “We stifle the humanity of boys…Masculinity becomes this hard small cage and we put boys inside the cage.”
Slicing through all of the stories, the common denominator is just optimizing our human capital.
And finally, as I just did, you might want to read this Betty Friedan obituary from the NY Times. The author of The Feminist Mystique, Betty Friedan was a feminism pioneer whose life story displays where it all began. The obituary includes what one Nebraska housewife who had a Ph.D in anthropology said to Ms. Friedan:
“A film made of any typical morning in my house would look like an old Marx Brothers comedy. I wash the dishes, rush the older children off to school, dash out in the yard to cultivate the chrysanthemums, run back in to make a phone call about a committee meeting, help the youngest child build a blockhouse, spend fifteen minutes skimming the newspapers so I can be well-informed, then scamper down to the washing machines where my thrice-weekly laundry includes enough clothes to keep a primitive village going for an entire year. By noon I’m ready for a padded cell. Very little of what I’ve done has been really necessary or important. Outside pressures lash me though the day. Yet I look upon myself as one of the more relaxed housewives in the neighborhood.”
Sources and resources: During one of my walks last year, I listened to Terry Gross (wonderfully) interview Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. More recently Adichie has been in the news because of her National Book Critics Circle Award for Americanah.